Sunday, August 28, 2011

Elie Saab Le Parfum

I had no idea I was going to like Le Parfum, the new perfume from fashion designer Elie Saab. As a matter of fact, I thought Elie Saab would provide me with some good fodder for what I call "Dreck Wednesday". You know the type of perfumes: they first appear as an exclusive at Saks or Neiman's, highly overpriced and pushed aggressively by SAs who try to ignore the fact you just asked for an eye cream and a new bottle of L'Heure Bleue. They spray you enthusiastically, nearly miss your left eye and give you attitude when you insists on your classic Guerlain ("but our new perfume is so much more modern and fresh!"). Six weeks later the perfume in question can be found on all the discounter websites, price reduced by 40%.

Elie Saab commissioned rockstar perfumer Francis Kurkdjian to create Le Parfum. Knowing Francis Kurkdjian's work this shouldn't really surprise us: he's a master of orange blossom, neroli and jasmine absolute, all are materials that go well with Elie Saab's exquisite couture gowns on all their delicate lace and sophisticated details.

Now, Elie Saab Le Parfum is not an esoteric hipster boutique fragrance. This is a department store product that's meant to give us mortals who will most likely never own an Elie Saab evening gown a taste of his red carpet glamour. This means a wearable perfume that will be enjoyed by many, smells like a million dollars and won't make one's elevator mates wonder if someone is hiding a ferret in their pocket.

The first time I tried Le Parfum I was instantly reminded of Thierry Mugler's Alien (a Dominique Ropion creation). Alien is a big (huge, actually) and quite aggressive jasmine oriental. I had a very short-lived infatuation with it that ended up with me selling my bottle a few months later. Elie Saab Le Parfum is a refined alternative, perhaps made with better quality ingredients and a more discerning judgement.

I smell mostly jasmine and sweet orange blossom swirling in honey. There's of course more to it and the scent darkens a little and becomes a smooth nectarish thing on the skin. I wear honey notes very well, enjoying both their floral component (like the aroma of Mediterranean orange blossom honey) and the grainy wood in their base. There's a light cheerfulness to Elie Saab Le Parfum, something very sunshiny and optimistic in the way it wafts around me (for hours. Longevity is excellent). It makes me wonder what would happen if I layered this pretty maiden with Miel de Bois. I think I'm going to find out very soon.

I don't know if I should be surprised or not to see my friend CharlstonGirl from Best Things In Beauty enjoying this perfume just as much as I do. Our reaction to fragrance can often be quite opposite, but I guess pretty is pretty, and her point of view is similar to mine.

Top notes: orange blossom
Heart: Sambac jasmine, jasmine grandiflorum
Base: cedar, patchouli, rose honey

Elie Saab Le Parfum ($90, 1.6 oz) is available from top department stores (in the UK it was launched at Harrods). My sample came with a Neiman Marcus purchase.

Images:, and


  1. Le Parfum is #1 on my fragrance wish list, I sampled it and I'm in love!!!!

  2. My mom just told me yesterday that this is the fragrance she wants for her birthday. I plan to go to Nordstrom's this week to get it for her, and look forward to giving it a sniff myself. I've been curious about it ever since news of its upcoming release and the fact that Francis Kurkdijian designed it. That certainly sounded promising. Now it's getting a lot of good buzz to boot. It's always a nice surprise (and rare these days) when a mainstream release is nicely done and isn't a fruity floral!

  3. It is one of the nicest to come out of late; but does not really compare to the old fragrances still around. However, thank goodness it is not endorsed by some pop star! It at least has dignity.

  4. This sounds delightful. Alien was way too strong for me but I do like the notes so maybe Ellie Saab is the one for me. Gaia, you describe perfume beautifully!

  5. Orange blossom, jasmine, and honey - a few of my favorite notes! Must give this one a try! Thanks for the review :)

  6. "hiding a ferret in your pocket" hahaha hohoho hehehe That was one of your best metaphors Evah!! Startin' me Monday wit some Fine Laftah :) courtesy 'o Gaia :)


  7. To me, there is something very familiar about this fragrance. (not Alien) When I first spritzed it, I had the immediate sensation that this was similar to something I had worn years ago. Not being a perfume connoisseur, I couldn't even begin to tell you why it seemed so familiar, but it did. That's not a criticism and I did buy a bottle because the bottom line was that I loved its warm, summery bouquet tinged with a bit of honey. We still have many a warm day and night ahead of us here in SoCal, so I know it will be worn often.

  8. Speaking of new releases, what are your thoughts on Cartier Baiser Volé? It's very pretty, but still quite smart.

  9. I'm really loving the sound of this from everyone's reviews. I'll have to find a way to check it out!

  10. I'm finding this to be my "wearable" Alien. Alien isn't easy for me to wear at all even though I like it.

  11. I preffer Fleurs d Citronier honey, orange blossom but really less sweet and more natural ingredients and I don't suffer the multiple variations with honey and orange blossoms from Kurdijian, Fleur d Male, Custo Man, Le Male, and.......... too boring and is really more sintetic than this E Saab.
    Actually L Perfum is nice that is true but You had a good idea shake it with Miel D Bois really needs any kind of forza.

  12. Could you please tell me how this one compares to Annick Goutal Ambre Fetiche? Thank you in advance!

    1. These two are like apples and oranges. Elie Saab is a not-too-heavy floral, a honeyed bridal scent, perhaps, while Ambre Fetiche is a full on smoky incensy amber, dark and rich.


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